Weekly Gospel Reflection - 25 September 2011
Matthew 21:23-32 (CEB): When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came to him as he was teaching. They asked, “What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?”
Jesus replied, “I have a question for you. If you tell me the answer, I’ll tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things. Where did John get his authority to baptize? Did he get it from heaven or from humans?”
They argued among themselves, “If we say ‘from heaven,’ he’ll say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But we can’t say ‘from humans’ because we’re afraid of the crowd, since everyone thinks John was a prophet.” Then they replied, “We don’t know.”
Jesus also said to them, “Neither will I tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. Now he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
“ ‘No, I don’t want to,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went.
“The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.
“Which one of these two did his father’s will?”
They said, “The first one.”
Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you. For John came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him. But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Yet even after you saw this, you didn’t change your hearts and lives and you didn’t believe him.
‘I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s [realm] ahead of you.’ I have never noticed this before. Well, I mean, I have in one way. That is, I have seen that Jesus accepted the ‘tax collectors and prostitutes’ but I didn’t notice that he accepted the religious leaders, too. Jesus said that they, too, would be ‘entering God’s [realm]’. Not as they were, mind you. Just as the ‘tax collectors and prostitutes’ would have to change their hearts and lives, so, too, would the ‘Jewish opposition’. For some reason, in my mind, I had always thought that they wouldn’t be ‘entering God’s [realm]’.
I had some people not tie the to parts of this passage together. They thought that the story Jesus told didn’t have anything to do with his confrontation with the ‘Jewish opposition’. In case we miss it, in the story Jesus told, the ‘tax collectors and prostitutes’ would equal the first son. The religious leaders would equal the second son. The religious leaders answered ‘Yes!’ to following God and doing what God asked. But, later, when God started doing something new through John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, they refused. Likewise, the ‘tax collectors and prostitutes’ at first said ‘No!’ to following God and doing what God asked. But, later, when God started doing something new through John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, they followed. In both cases, both groups were God’s children, much to the discomfort of the religious leadership, no doubt.
So, before we start pointing fingers and stating that ‘those people’ aren’t God’s children because they are doing things the way we do them, maybe we should remember this story that Jesus told.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br Jack+, LC